United States Navy Blimp Squadron ZP-14 (Air Ship Patrol Squadron 14 or
Airship Squadron 14, or Blimpron-14, or Africa Squadron, or ZP-14) in World War Two WWII.

Airship Patrol Squadron 14 (ZP-14)
United States Navy Wings.

ZP-14 Advanced Base #1
Cuers-Pierrefeu Airdrome, Cuers, France


1944 Cuers-Pierrefeu Airdrome, Cuers, France.


A B C D

No sooner had Toulon and Marseille been captured by the French Army than ZP-14 established its 1st Advanced Base
at the Cuers-Pierrefeu Airdrome ~11 miles NE of Toulon. ZP-14 K-ships assisted minesweepers by spotting mines and
communicating their locations to surface vessels so they could be cleared from these key ports that would eventually
supply all of the Allied armies in France with approximately one third of their total provisions until the end of 1944.


Unknown, Willy Kaiser, and Warren Ireland souvenir hunting at Cuers.
Souvenir hunting around a German Focke-Wulf 190 (Fw 190) in southern France. From left
to right: Lt. (jg) Wilbur F. Gasner, Ensign William K. Kaiser, and Lt. (jg) Warren Ireland.


ZP-14 Operations

01 02 03 04 05 06
07 08 09 10 11


ZP-14 in Southern France

01 02 03 04
05 06 07 08

Cuers ZP-14 personnel 1.
Standing left to right: Lt. W. M. Bishop; Rad. Elec. A. M. Pontus; Lt. (jg) W. F. Gasner; Ens. Chalmer Litteral. Kneeling left to right: S. R. Reece, CBM; R. J. Varca, AMM2/c; A. D. Trudeau, AR1/c; F. J. Platt, ARM1/c; William Nicol, ARM2/c; L. W. Ahlstrand, BM1/c.


Cuers ZP-14 personnel 2.
Standing left to right: Lt. H. F. Bogren; Lt. (jg) E. R. McMillan; Lt. (jg) E. B. Russell; Lt. Comdr. Oscar Loeser (present on inspection tour); ZP-14 Squadron Commander E. J. Sullivan.
Kneeling left to right: H. A. Snider, ARM1/c; H. E. Israel, ARM2/c; Joseph Grimaldi, ARM1/c; G. H. Harris, AM1/c; G. H. Hetzel, SC2/c; J. P. Shimkus, ART1/c.


Cuers ZP-14 personnel 3.
Standing left to right: Lt. J. J. Barefoot; Lt. (jg) W. H. Ireland; Ens. R. T. Emory; Ens. F. J. Kroll; Ens. W. K. Kaiser; Ens. A. W. Hagedorn. Kneeling left to right: A. S. Milinowicz, AMM2/c; Donald McEachern, AR1/c; E. E. Bradshaw, AMM2/c; Paul Baldasare, ARM3/c; Manuel Papastergiou, ARM2/c; James M. Dreher, AOM2/c; J. W. Marsh, AMM2/c; Louis Brodsky, CBM; P. G. Smith, ACMM (not pictured).


Ens. Frederick J. Kroll (pictured above next to my uncle) told me that he enjoyed spending time with my uncle "Willy" Kaiser and that they both flew from Port Lyautey to southern France in 1944 to set-up a stick mast there. According to the official squadron records for September 14, 1944:

"In anticipation of airship mine spotting operations near Toulon, eight officers and fourteen men together with a stick mast were flown by R5D from NAS Port Lyautey to Cuers, France."

Kroll, who sailed from New York on the USS Mission Bay (May 28) with the second wave of ZP-14 personnel (35 officers and 139 enlisted men) to Casablanca (arr. June 6), said he bunked with Furtek and Titus (not pictured) at Cuers and that he got along "famously" with Gasner (also pictured above) who helped him with his correspondence calculus course.

According to Kroll, ZP-14 operations officer, E. W. Steffen, found a German rifle at Cuers that he loaded with the wrong cartridges causing harm to his face when it backfired. Kroll also indicated that Steffen was senior to J. J. Barefoot, the other ZP-14 operations officer. Kroll said that when they arrived at Cuers, squadron commander Emmett Sullivan addressed the USN reserve officers as "gents," which he always did, and said that if anyone interfered with squadron operations, he was going to "crucify" them.

Kroll told me that his blimp had an accident while returning from a night patrol of the Gibraltar fence when enemy aircraft were reported to be heading their way. According to the squadron records:

"On the night of June 19, the K-130 struck the water while on patrol in the Straits of Gibraltar, resulting in the loss of the radar hat and radio altimeter antenna. At the time of the accident, the ship was proceeding out of the Straits after having received a warning that enemy aircraft were approaching."

Kroll said he was on the mine sweeping blimp that escorted Franklin Roosevelt's ship from Gibraltar to Oran on the first leg of his voyage through the Mediterranean to the Yalta Conference in early 1945. Kroll remembered there being two other legs for this blimp escort. According to the official squadron records for February 1, 1945:

"K-112 using facilities at Oran and Bizerte escorted naval vessels in the Mediterranean carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Teheran Conference."

This must be an error in the records since the Tehran conference was held in 1943 before any blimps had arrived in Africa or Europe, and the Yalta conference began on February 4, 1945.



All of the photographs on this page came from the five-volume pictorial history Blimpron 14 Overseas created by the squadron photographic officer Lt. (jg) R. C. Kline, A (V) N, USNR and the squadron's only photographers mate PhoM1/c Stephen J. Kubarych.


Contact: don{dot}kaiser{at}gmail{dot}com